Forest chief says US wildfires show urgency for forest restoration

5:04 PM, Jun 14, 2012   |    comments
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As firefighters battle massive blazes in New Mexico and Colorado, the head of the U.S. Forest Service is renewing his call to restore forests to a more natural state, with fire a part of the landscape.

Tom Tidwell says decades of vigorous fire suppression and the waning of the timber industry have left forests overgrown, making them more vulnerable to the kind of super-fires now being seen in the West.

The Forest Service wants to thin the forests at greatest risk by 20 percent a year, using fire or mechanical methods. It's targeting 4 million acres of forest this year.

More than 1,000 firefighters are working to build containment lines around a Colorado fire that has burned 73 square miles, destroyed more than 100 structures and forced hundreds of people from their homes.

A fire in southern New Mexico has scorched 58 square miles and destroyed or damaged at least 224 structures. Wildfires are also burning in Utah, Wyoming and Arizona.

The Associated Press

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